The most commonly prescribed antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
How do SSRIs work? Although SSRIs do increase serotonin, that is not the reason for the perceived sense of relief. SSRIs make you feel good not because of increased serotonin, but rather as a result of increasing transmitter substances and brain hormone steroids, causing a lift in mood. SSRIs artificially boost hormones like allopregnanolone, a steroid that blocks inflammation. In addition, the perceived benefits of SSRIs may be from the upregulated expression of neurotrophic factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which produces new brain cells and strengthens existing ones.
The problem is high serotonin is a dangerous place to be. It’s important to know the side effects before you start taking any medication.
Elevated serotonin is linked to weight gain, sleep disturbance, anxiety and agitation, sexual dysfunction, an increased risk of diabetes, and more.
Elevated serotonin increases the risk of bleeding in the brain.
“…A new study published in JAMA Neurology reports that treatment with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and antidepressants in general with strong inhibition of serotonin reuptake is associated with a greater risk of intracranial hemorrhage.” The risk for intracranial hemorrhage was 25% higher with the use of SSRIs.
Maternal SSRI/SNRI use may lead to offspring addiction and withdrawal.
“One of the studies the researchers considered in their meta-analysis found that 30% of infants exposed to antidepressants in pregnancy suffered from neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS), an umbrella term for a variety of side effects that occur when a baby goes through withdrawal following prenatal exposure to drugs, whether prescription or otherwise.
The following symptoms of withdrawal in the babies:
Hypotonia: decreased muscle tone
Tachypnea: rapid, shallow breathing
Tachycardia: unusually rapid heart rate
Tremors: involuntary quivering movement
Hypoglycemia: deficiency of glucose in the bloodstream
Hypertonia: unusually high level of muscle tone or tension
Elevated serotonin can cause hormone disruption.
SSRIs can decrease the production of testosterone, DHEA, progesterone, and DHT, and increase the production of estrogen. In one study, 6 SSRIs were found to be “aromatase stimulators,” meaning they promote the production of estrogen (which is known to stimulate breast cancer).
Elevated serotonin decreases libido and causes sexual dysfunction.
Researchers propose that elevated serotonin may act as a brake on dopamine signaling in mating-related circuits, thereby decreasing libido—a side effect that nearly 75% of patients taking SSRIs experience.
Elevated serotonin can destroy empathy.
Researchers suggest that antidepressant treatment reduces the aversive responses triggered by exposure to the suffering of others. “Importantly, this cannot be explained by a general blunting of negative affect, as treatment did not change self-experienced pain.”
Elevated serotonin is linked to an increase in violent behavior and suicidal thoughts.
“…Three years before Prozac received approval by the US Food and Drug Administration in late 1987, the German BGA, that country’s FDA equivalent, had such serious reservations about Prozac’s safety that it refused to approve the antidepressant based on Lilly’s studies showing that previously nonsuicidal patients who took the drug had a fivefold higher rate of suicides and suicide attempts than those on older antidepressants, and a threefold higher rate than those taking placebos.”
“…“This work shows that SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) treatment appears to be associated with an increased risk for violent criminality in adults as well as adolescents…though the risk appears restricted to a small group of individuals,” notes first author Tyra Lagerberg, from the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Karolinska Institutet, in a statement.…“The study also shows that past offenders were more likely to commit a violent crime during SSRI treatment: this in itself is an interesting finding, which could be the main focus of future research on the topic,” concludes lead author Professor Eduard Vieta.”
To reiterate, the feel-good relief from SSRIs is not a result of serotonin promotion, but rather from the promotion of brain hormones and an increased upregulated expression of neurotrophic factors. The elevated serotonin however can cause issues in some patients.
Antidepressants are physically addictive, and should not be taken long-term.
We work to solve the underlying issues of depression, anxiety, and stress. In addition, we offer cutting-edge treatments that offer relief with fewer known side effects.
If you want to schedule an appointment for natural options to treat your anxiety or depression please don’t hesitate to reach out to set up a consult with us, call 949-680-1889.
MPR. Certain Antidepressants May Up Risk of Intracranial Hemorrhage. Han, Da.
Babygaga. Babies Go Through Withdrawal If Moms Took Antidepressants In Pregnancy. Sakellarious, A.
Toxicol In Vitro. 2017 Jun;41:1-11. The six most widely used selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors decrease androgens and increase estrogens in the H295R cell line. Hansen, C., et al.
Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28179152/
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News. 2021, Aug. Sex Drive Linked to Medication-Sensitive Neuronal Signaling Mechanism.
Retrieved from: https://www.genengnews.com/news/sex-drive-linked-to-medication-sensitive-neuronal-signaling-mechanism/
Transl Psychiatry. 2019 Jun 7;9(1):164. Antidepressant treatment, not depression, leads to reductions in behavioral and neural responses to pain empathy. Rutgen, M., et al.
Retrieved from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31175273/
NARPA. 2000, July. Prozac Revisited. Garnett, L
Retrieved from: http://www.narpa.org/reference/prozac-revisited
European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. 2020, May. SSRI antidepressants associated with increase in violent crime in some patients.
Retrieved from: https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/685942